Tying shoelaces is not difficult but it can be a handful when you’re in a rush. Slip-on boots are faster to wear, yet finding the right fit is challenging. If the collar or the opening is too tight or loose around, there’s just no way for you to adjust it. Hence, many workers who are deployed to emergencies opt for zipper work boots.
As you look for the best zipper work boots, be sure to check for the following features:
- Zipper: Side zipper boots have their good and bad sides. On one end, they let you wear the footwear fast and easy. Plus, you don’t need to re-tie your laces. On the other hand, poorly-made zippers do not close at all, while others get stuck midway. Some zippers cause the boot’s uppers to curl or bend inward and rub on your skin the wrong way.
- Size and fit: Sometimes, knowing your shoe size does not help when you are looking for the perfect fit. Once you factor in the material and construction, the shoes tend to have slight differences in both width and length. If you are buying steel and non-metallic safety toe shoes, it is not a good practice to use the size of your sneakers as your reference. Remember, these safety toe caps are not pliable!
- Protective features: The safety features you need to look for depending on your type of job. Some employers may require you to wear steel toe caps. In other settings, regular service boots are acceptable. In any case, it is not impossible to find zipper boots with steel, alloy, or composite safety toes. Most, if not all, come with slip-resistant rubber outsoles.
Not all zip work boots in the market have good quality side zippers. But don’t worry! I’ve done all the research so you don’t have to. In this article, I’m sharing a review of each pair of boots and some tips in finding the right footwear in the “Buying Guide” section.
Table of Contents
- Top 11 Zipper Work Boots Reviews
- 1. Maelstrom TAC FORCE ZIPPER-M Tactical Boot
- 2. ROCKROOSTER Men’s Work Boot
- 3. NORTIV 8 Men’s Tactical Boot
- 4. Thorogood Trooper Genflex2 Tactical Jump Boot
- 5. Reebok RB8894 Rapid Response Work Boot
- 6. 5.11 12391 ATAC 2.0 8″ Side Zip Work Boot
- 7. CQR Men’s Military Tactical Boot
- 8. Skechers 64839 Men’s Resment Korver Work Boot
- 9. HQ ISSUE Waterproof Classic Zip Tactical Boot
- 10. Danner Men’s Kinetic Side-Zip GTX-M Work Boot
- 11. Magnum 5870 Men’s Stealth Force 8.0 Boot
- What Is a Pair of Zipper Work Boots
- How Does It Work
- Types of Zipper Work Boots
- Why Do You Need Zipper Work Boots
- Buying Guide
- Care and Maintenance
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 11 Zipper Work Boots Reviews
1. Maelstrom TAC FORCE ZIPPER-M Tactical Boot
Among the law enforcement personnel, these men’s zipper boots are popular. This shoe model is available in tan suede and a black version made of polishable premium full-grain leather, combined with a sturdy nylon. The materials and design make the boots flexible and breathable.
Because I walk on hard surfaces every day, the compression-molded EVA midsole keeps the footwear light and boosts shock absorption. Meanwhile, the rubber outsole serves as a protective feature as it provides an excellent grip on slippery surfaces. In addition, the removable insoles provide ample cushion for my feet.
Built with athletic cement construction, I’m confident that these tactical boots can hold up to the demands of my job. Wearing these boots is pretty easy. Once I have adjusted the laces to my desired fit, I just use the zipper to take off or wear the boots. The YKK zip closure proves to be reliable as it never jams. Also, it does not curl up and rub on my skin.
- Available in suede and full-grain leather
- The side zipper does not jam
- Light and comfortable for walking
- Suitable for law enforcers or similar professions
- Ensures long-lasting durability
- Has poor-quality shoelaces
2. ROCKROOSTER Men’s Work Boot
Another favorite of mine, these zip-up steel toe boots are perfect for mechanics, construction work, or any job that requires protective garments. Besides their ASTM-certified steel toes and static dissipative capabilities, the rubber outsoles boast superior slip and oil-resistant features. When I need to work on the job site, I trust these boots to safeguard my feet against falling objects and prevent slipping accidents.
With these side zip steel toe boots, I don’t have to change footwear when the seasons change. Thanks to the COOLMAX technology, my feet remain dry and fresh during the hot summer. In the winter, the lining helps warm my feet. For the uppers, the full-grain leather keeps the footwear water-resistant.
On the other hand, PORON XRD boosts impact protection while keeping the boot light and comfy to wear, especially during long shifts. Cradled by the anti-fatigue comfort technology footbeds, my feet feel less tired despite walking all day.
- Can be worn in any season
- Has ASTM-rated safety features
- Keeps the feet dry and fresh
- Comfortable for long work shifts
- Features durable side zipper
- The snap closure does not close properly
3. NORTIV 8 Men’s Tactical Boot
Coming in at number three is this pair of NORTIV men’s work boots with a side zipper, which allows for swift donning and doffing. Although this footwear is typically worn by first responders and law enforcers, they are also suitable for outdoor activities like hiking. For one, the leather and breathable mesh uppers ensure good ventilation for the hot weather. For another, the footwear is water-resistant.
Working in tandem with the cushioned footbed is the EVA midsole and slip-resistant rubber outsole. Collectively, they are known as the Dynamic 3-sole system, which keeps my feet comfortable as I walk or stand on hard concrete floors all day. Moreover, it prevents me from sliding when I walk on slick surfaces. In addition, the shafts support my ankles whenever I need to walk on rough terrains.
- Allows for quick donning and doffing
- Best worn during the hot season
- Provides good ankle support
- Keeps the feet comfy during long walks
- Available in different colors
- Appropriate for work and casual wear
- The insoles lack cushioning
4. Thorogood Trooper Genflex2 Tactical Jump Boot
Made with Goodyear storm welt construction, these heavy-duty Thorogood boots can endure all the uncertainties that come with emergencies. With the help of the side zipper, I can quickly remove or wear the footwear. For good measure, the velcro closure at the top hides the zipper’s pull-tab and keeps it from getting caught by a piece of equipment or branches. With polishable premium full-grain leather for the uppers, I can keep the boots shiny.
When it comes to comfort, these zipper work boots do not disappoint. The removable single-density polyurethane footbed gives me both the cushion and support I need to walk on hard concrete or rugged terrains. It does not take long for me to break these boots in. Even though the boot is built with a composite shank, the sole flexes well enough, yet it does not bend when I climb a ladder.
- Reliable in times of emergencies
- Easy to wear and remove
- Made of polishable leather
- Has slip-resistant durable rubber outsole
- Comfortable for long walks and treks
- Built with Goodyear storm welt construction
- Produces squeaking noise
5. Reebok RB8894 Rapid Response Work Boot
Let me start this review by saying that these men’s zippered work boots are truly one of a kind. Fabricated with leather and nylon, the uppers are perfect for any rough job on the clothing. Whether I’m hiking rugged terrain or navigating the urban landscapes, the moisture-wicking lining keeps my feet dry.
Meanwhile, the 8-inch shaft supports my ankle but the zipper makes the boot easy to wear. So far, I’m impressed that the zipper runs smoothly when I close and open it. Thankfully, this model is available in regular and wide options. You can select a wide size so that your toes are not squeezed inside the toe box.
Along with the EVA midsole, the removable polyurethane cushion footbed and shock-eliminator heel cushion reduce fatigue as I work for long hours. When the situation escalates, my feet are protected against falling objects thanks to the ASTM-rated electrical hazard protection and composite toe cap.
- Ideal for outdoors and urban areas
- Keeps the feet fresh and dry
- Minimizes fatigue during long shifts
- Provides ASTM-rated composite toe
- Comes in regular and wide sizes
- The side zip lets you wear the boot quickly
- The boots are not waterproof
6. 5.11 12391 ATAC 2.0 8″ Side Zip Work Boot
Manufactured by one of the leading brands of tactical gear, these men’s zip-up work boots boast swift and effortless on-and-off. After I adjusted and tied the laces to create the perfect fit, I rarely touched them again and used the side zipper when I needed to change shoes. Despite doing this for months, I’m amazed that the zipper works smoothly.
If you’re always on your feet like me, I’m sure you will be delighted by the fact that these work boots have dual-density cushioned inserts. Together with the shock-absorbing midsole and outsole, my feet and legs feel less tired even if I walk or stand all day. Apart from its lightweight design, the boot is well-ventilated thanks to the breathable tongue construction.
Overall, I would say that the work boot is strong enough for tough jobs in fields like public safety and law enforcement. Featuring uppers that are made of black nylon and leather, the footwear is polishable and fairly easy to maintain. Plus, it has a hidden pocket that lets me slip a small knife.
- Has a side zipper for quick on-and-off
- Excellent shock-absorbing midsole and outsole
- Promotes good airflow
- Equipped with a hidden knife pocket
- Supports the feet and ankles
- Feels tight around the ankles
7. CQR Men’s Military Tactical Boot
Long walks can take a toll on your feet and legs but you can avert the pain and discomfort with a good pair of shoes. For me, these CQR zipper work boots are a decent choice for those who are constantly on their feet. Although advertised as tactical boots, they are light and comfy like sneakers. The uppers are built with dust-proof fabric for easy cleaning. Aside from its durability, the fabric also enables the boots to flex whenever I move.
Another feature worth mentioning is the rubber outsole’s excellent grip. In conjunction with the ankle support, I can trek any type of terrain without running the risk of getting into an accident. It might be helpful for you to know that this shoe model comes in a side-zip and no-zip versions. I particularly like the one with the side zipper as it helps me wear the shoes faster.
- Feels like wearing sneakers
- Made of dust-proof fabric for easy cleaning
- The rubber outsole has good traction
- Can support the ankles
- Comes in a side zipper and no-zip options
- The soles tend to bend when climbing a ladder
- Lacks waterproof capabilities
8. Skechers 64839 Men’s Resment Korver Work Boot
With side-zip wellington work boots, you don’t have to worry about getting laces caught in the machine you are operating. However, tall shafts can make your feet sweat under hot conditions, and they tend to be heavier. If you need something shorter and lighter, then check out these Skechers 7″ zipper work boots.
Even though I have been wearing these work boots for over a year, the side zippers still run smoothly. The shaft supports the ankles when I’m walking. Built with a relaxed fit, the boots are roomy enough to allow my toes to spread naturally. On slippery surfaces, the rubber outsole gives me good traction to walk safely. At the same time, the midsoles are shock-absorbent, which helps minimize fatigue.
To boost comfort, these zipper work boots have memory foams for the footbeds. What makes them unique is the air technology, giving my feet instant relief from the pressure while simultaneously maintaining good breathability.
- Equipped with high-quality side zippers
- Feels comfy and light for hot weather
- Designed with a relaxed fit
- Has slip-resistant rubber outsole
- Lined with memory foam footbeds
- The memory foam will thin out after months
- The insoles are glued to the boots
9. HQ ISSUE Waterproof Classic Zip Tactical Boot
Does your work constantly expose you to the rain? You can keep your feet dry with these side-zip waterproof boots. Let me start by assuring you that the side zippers will not cause leaking. Besides, the boot is designed with a gusseted tongue to keep the liquids out while the moisture-wicking lining takes care of the sweat inside. Consequently, my feet dry throughout the day.
For their protective features, these zipper work boots have slip-resistant outsoles. To top it off, the tall shafts firmly stabilize my ankles. Hence, I like wearing them whether I’m trekking on slippery terrains or walking on slick concrete surfaces. In addition to the padded top collar and tongue, the combination of suede and nylon ensures that uppers can flex as I move, as well as prevent friction-induced blisters.
- Has anti-slip durable rubber outsole
- Boasts superior waterproof construction
- Can keep the feet dry and sweat-free
- Ideal for trekking or walking on hard surfaces
- Lined with padding to prevent blisters
- Needs more time to break-in
10. Danner Men’s Kinetic Side-Zip GTX-M Work Boot
Clunky zipper work boots can weigh me down when I need to run but this pair does the exact opposite. Even though they look bulky, I’m surprised that the weight and fitting are similar to sneakers. The footwear can flex with the blend of full-grain leather and nylon, allowing my feet to move freely. Yet, its construction is durable enough to withstand any harsh environment and rigorous work schedules.
During a long shift, the boot’s EVA midsole and dual-density footbed work together to alleviate foot fatigue. Meanwhile, its trademark Danner Kinetic outsole offers superior traction. Instead of a steel shank, the nylon material inside the boots is more flexible but it does not add to the overall weight. As a whole, these stabilize my steps whenever I navigate rough terrains.
- Allows the feet to move freely
- Boasts durable construction
- Capable of reducing foot fatigue
- Has heavy-duty side zippers
- Ideal for rough terrains
- The zipper tends to rub the ankle
11. Magnum 5870 Men’s Stealth Force 8.0 Boot
Lastly, let’s not forget these amazing Magnum side zipper work boots! This pair lands on this list for various reasons. Firstly, the cool design can instantly make you look sharp. Beyond the aesthetics, however, lies some nifty features that can help you endure the toughest jobs. With the absence of metal hardware, the boots are naturally lighter. Plus, I don’t have to remove them to avoid setting off the metal detector.
Comfort is also one of these work boots’ strongest suits. They score high in breathability, making them appropriate for summer. Besides providing soft cushioning, the high-quality memory foam sock liners conform to the contours of my feet. Moreover, the EVA midsoles and X-traction outsoles absorb the shock in every step and prevent me from slipping when I walk on slick surfaces. Since the uppers and the soles can flex, breaking in these boots does not take long.
- Very comfortable to move in
- Prevents slipping accidents
- Can pass the metal detector
- Has high-quality memory foam sock liner
- Appropriate for hot weather
- The zipper does not run smoothly
What Is a Pair of Zipper Work Boots
“Zipper work boots” is just another term for work boots with side zippers and they are designed with necessary features like safety toe caps and slip-resistant outsoles. Some models are also equipped with a metal or composite shank, abrasion-resistant toe bumper, and electrical hazard protection. To help you deal with the nasty weather, you can also find waterproof and insulated boots.
They are commonly used by first responders, firefighters, law enforcers, military personnel, and other professionals who need to wear their protective garments quickly. Builders, carpenters, and other workers also take advantage of this type of work boot because of the convenience and safety that it offers.
How Does It Work
One of the advantages that zipper work boots have over traditional lace-up and pull-on boots is that they allow you to adjust the shoelaces, but you do not have to redo them each time you put the footwear on. The next time you need to wear or remove the boots, all you have to do is zip and unzip.
As for side zip steel toe work boots, you will also get the same toe protection against the impact of falling objects for as long as it has an ASTM rating.
Types of Zipper Work Boots
Nowadays, shoemakers are making a wide variety of work boots with zippers to cater to different jobs. Here are the different types of side zip boots in the market:
- Tactical boots
- Safety toe boots
- Hiking boots
- Wellington boots
- Pull-on boots
Why Do You Need Zipper Work Boots
On top of the comfort and protection that you normally get from safety footwear, zipper work boots also provide convenience. When you are responding to an emergency, every second counts. Your shoelaces can get in the way. The zipper eliminates the hassle of having to adjust and tie your laces. Instead of undoing and redoing each time you go to work, you only have to adjust the laces when you need to.
A pull-on boot without a side zip may seem like a viable solution, but not all of us have ankles and legs that can fit nicely in the shaft. Loose shafts, for instance, do not support the ankles properly, especially when you are walking on uneven ground. Furthermore, small rocks or debris can get inside the footwear and they can be painful to step on. Meanwhile, tight shafts are not just hard to wear but also uncomfortable!
Narrowing down our options can be a full-time job in itself. We cannot afford to overlook the quality of the footwear, especially when our safety and performance are at stake! Before hitting the add to cart button or heading to the check-out counter, inspect the work boot thoroughly. If you don’t know what to check, let me share some criteria to check when buying zip work boots:
When your sneakers break while you’re on your way back home, it is both embarrassing and inconvenient. If you are working in a high-risk place, a poorly-constructed work boot can be disastrous. Not only does it affect your performance but it also exposes your foot to falling objects, harmful chemicals, or electrical hazards. Hence, durability should be your top priority. Goodyear welt construction method makes shoes more heavy-duty and easier to repair than cement construction. In terms of pricing, the latter is cheaper. If you are buying zipper steel toe work boots, be sure that they meet the ASTM standards.
We all have different ideas of what a comfortable work boot should look and feel like. At the very basic, it should provide extra support and cushion so that we can stand and walk with ease. However, our preferences vary based on our day-to-day activities, environment, and foot conditions that may need to be addressed. On top of that, bad-quality side zip can cause the boot’s upper to crease and rub against the skin. In some cases, this can be resolved by wearing thick socks but, ideally, the zipper should stay flat when you zip them up.
Your geographical location will also dictate the type of boots to wear. The right zipper work boots for cold weather conditions is the one that has good insulation. Some winter boots are lined with Thinsulate insulation, which helps keep the feet warm without adding weight to the footwear. For the summer, boots with breathable mesh uppers and moisture-wicking lining can keep your feet cool and sweat-free. If you are working outdoors on a rainy day, a pair of waterproof boots with zipper fits the bill. Keep in mind that the boot’s waterproofing can wear down over time but you can fix this by applying a waterproofing agent.
Each employer has its unique work policies and safety protocols. Some employers provide company-issued work boots. For those who have some leeway to choose their footwear, my advice is to consult your employer since they may require you to adhere to specific dress codes. While general guidelines apply across specific industries, the implementation can differ depending on your company or immediate superior. For instance, some light manufacturing businesses may allow you to wear composite toe boots, while others would ask you to wear steel toe boots.
When I say “style,” I’m referring to the design of the work boots concerning functionality rather than fashion. In this review, I have included some tactical boots, traditional work boots, hiker-style boots, and slip-on boots. If you are buying shoes for work, it is best to choose based on what you need to perform better at work than what is trendy. Of course, some work boots are naturally stylish but your top priority should be your safety and comfort.
Care and Maintenance
By any measure, the Goodyear welt construction method is the gold standard but your side zipper work boots fall apart if you don’t care and maintain them properly.
For full-grain leather boots, make sure to wipe off superficial dirt after every shift. You can use a rag or a brush to remove the dirt from the uppers and small rocks that get stuck in between the treads of your rubber outsoles. Some shoe manufacturers also sell cream or lotion to keep the leather in mint condition. To prevent the leather construction from deteriorating, store them away from any heat source.
In case you got your work boots caked with mud or grime, be sure to wash them as soon as you get home. Don’t forget to remove the laces and insoles before you start scrubbing away the dirt with an old toothbrush. You can let the washing machine take care of your insoles.
If your work boots are made of leather, you can use saddle soap. For other materials, use a mild shampoo. Work the saddle soap or shampoo in a circular motion using a brush or clean damp cloth then rinse the footwear thoroughly with water.
Clean the interiors of your boots with a mild shampoo. Work the shampoo throughout the surface with a damp cloth and rinse away the residue with water. Next, use a dry cloth to wipe away and absorb the excess water. After that, hang the boots upside down to dry.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the most trusted zipper work boots brands?
There is no shortage of brands making zip-up work boots. The question is: Are they making high-quality footwear? Well, it’s hard to find out unless you buy the boots and run them through some test yourself. In reality, we can’t afford to do that, which is why I have done the tests for you. In my opinion, Maelstorm, ROCKROOSTER, NORTIV 8, Reebok, 5.11, CQR, Skechers, HQ ISSUE, Danner, Magnum, and Thorogood boots are at the top-tier in terms of performance.
Are boots with zippers good?
Yes, side zipper boots are highly recommended for those who need to change garments quickly. Firefighters, for instance, need to wear station boots. In contrast, they need to don their turnout gear fast enough when responding to an emergency at the station. Similarly, first responders and those working in law enforcement also benefit from the convenience that zip work boots have to offer.
Are zip-up boots allowed in the army?
Unfortunately, the army does not authorize its members to wear boots that feature laced-in or sewn-in side zippers. Many people with military backgrounds argue that the side zipper can break while in the field.
How should zipper boots fit?
As with any work boots, the zipper boots should fit snugly even with your socks on. Remember, our feet can expand throughout the day. Hence, it is best to fit a new pair in the afternoon or evening.
If you intend to buy composite, alloy, or steel toe zipper boots, a good way to determine a good fit is whether your toes can move without rubbing or clumping inside the toe box. Ideally, your toes should be able to spread comfortably.
It is best for those who need to wear supportive insoles to remove the factory insoles instead of stacking the two. When you put another insole on top of the original one, your boots will feel tighter.
How do you lace side zip boots?
Whether you are about to wear new work boots or re-lacing after you cleaned your footwear, make sure to undo the laces and redo them so you can configure the best fit. Once you can do this, you can keep the laces as they are then use the side zipper to wear and remove the work boots.
In the face of an emergency, a mundane task like tying your shoelaces can slow you down. Unlike other shoes, zipper work boots can help you speed things up. More importantly, they also offer protection like safety toe and slip-resistant rubber outsole. The best zipper work boots, however, go beyond the basic features to provide the worker with long-lasting durability and comfort.
As many workers have pointed out, some side zippers can be faulty and this naturally gets in the way of work. That’s why you need to do your part and check the quality of each part of the footwear before you buy. Rest assured, all the work boots I reviewed in this article have passed the test.
Veronica is our content editor. She is a talent in delivery. Her main work is editing and writing articles that are both informative and simple to follow. She is in charge of synthesizing our understanding of what personal protection equipment (PPE) is needed in each job, how to best apply it, and how to visualize that equipment.